Learning Outcomes

Learning Frameworks

As demonstrated through the previous activity, when it comes to learning outcomes, verbs are important. Verbs like identify, define, imitate, follow, or list connote memory-based learning. Verbs like evaluate, justify, critique, or create connote more cognitively complex or deeper learning.

When choosing an action verb, it may be useful to draw on one the following three frameworks of learning: i) Bloom’s taxonomy (Bloom et al., 1956); ii) the ICE model, which stands for Ideas, Connections, and Extensions, (Fostaty Young & Wilson, 2000); or iii) the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy (Biggs & Collis, 1982; Biggs & Tang, 2007).

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy compartmentalizes learning into three separate domains – cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. Within each of the domains, Bloom’s describes an ascending order of levels of complexity. The taxonomy is hierarchical, and for students to achieve the higher order stages, they first need to perform at the lower levels. For example, in order for students to apply knowledge, they need to first understand it. Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) have updated Bloom’s cognitive domain by changing all the labels from nouns to verbs to better represent the active nature of learning. The following picture offers a list of verbs, students’ activities and products to describe learning at different levels – this may be a useful paradigm in articulating learning outcomes.

Click the links on the diagram to reveal more information.

Recall of information; Discovery; Observation; Listing; Locating; Naming
Understanding; Translating; Summarising; Demonstrating; Discussing
Using and applying knowledge; Using problem solving methods; Manipulating; Designing; Experimenting
Identifying and analyzing patterns; Organization of ideas; recognizing trends
Using old concepts to create new ideas; Design and Invention; Composing; Imagining; Inferring; Modifying; Predicting; Combining
Assessing theories; Comparison of ideas; Evaluating outcomes; Solving; Judging; Recommending; Rating

ICE Framework

The ICE framework represents the iterative growth of the learner towards deeper understanding. The conception of learning is one that is integrated among domains. Ideas are the fundamental, discrete pieces of information, or steps in a process, that make up the building blocks of learning. Connections represent the relationships that students can form among discrete ideas, and connecting newly learned concepts to prior knowledge or experience. Extensions constitute creating new learning and applying knowledge to completely new and novel situations and when students can identify the implications of their learning (Fostaty Young & Wilson, 2000). The following diagram suggests the non-linear, non-hierarchical nature of learning and offers a list of verbs for the ICE model.

Select the terms on each cog to learn more

Articulate relationships and make connections
Apply, compare, contrast, classify, organize, categorize, distinguish, interpret, integrate, modify, rate, solve
Factual recall of basic information Define, describe, explain, label, match, identify, list, locate, recognize
Predict outcomes in novel situations Design, diagnose, evaluate, extrapolate, judge, predict

SOLO Taxonomy

The SOLO taxonomy structures learning in five levels, from quantitative increases in learning (acquiring new amounts of information) to qualitative increases in learning (creating meaning and transferring ideas to new situations and experiences). The pre-structural level refers to the stage before the learning cycle begins. As students enter the learning cycle they move from adding simple ideas and concepts, to drawing complex connections and distinctions between ideas, and eventually reaching the extended abstract stage.

Click the links on the diagram to reveal more information.

The SOLO Taxonomy with Sample Verbs
Indicating Levels of Understanding

Fail, Incompetent, Misses point
Identify, Name, Follow simple procedure
Combine, Describe, Enumerate, Perform serial skills List
Anlyze, Apply, Argue, Compare/ contrast, Criticize, Explain causes, Relate, Justify
Create, Formulate, Generate, Hypothesize, Reflect, Theorize
one relevant aspect
several relevant independent aspects
integrated into a structure
generalized to new domain